“Bitter winters help me realize more fully than ever that spring in the mountains is a good time and place to be alive. Whatever the disappointments or setbacks of the rest of the year, spring brings new beginnings and a season of hope,” writes Dr. Michael Joslin in the introduction to his latest book, Mountain Spring: A Personal Journey through the Season in Appalachia. Recently published by The Overmountain Press, Joslin’s sixth book on the region takes the reader on a meandering journey through Appalachian Spring.
Illustrated with his vivid color photographs, Mountain Spring tells the story of the season, covering everything from the first vernal signs to late snow storms to welcoming hiking trails that take you into the woods and down to waterfalls. Whether he is wandering through the woods looking for the first flowers or early wild edibles or preparing the garden for planting, Joslin shows his eye for detail and his love of the land through prose and photography.
In his 24th year as a professor at Lees-McRae College, Joslin teaches literature, photography, journalism, creative writing and Appalachian studies, and serves as the Director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. Most of the past 30 years he has spent in the Buladean community in the shadow of Roan Mountain on a farm where he has raised three children with his wife Pam. Chickens, horses, dogs, cats and a continuing stream of wild animals passing through (and sometimes taking up residence) keep their days full.
Mountain Spring presents an eclectic experience of the season as Joslin enjoys it over several years. He features human friends and relatives, like Ralph the reformed moonshiner; Aaron Linville, who descended from the Linville Falls family; Joslin’s son Mitchell, who accompanies him on forays into the forest, and L. G. and David Sheets, who have reconstructed the cave shelter where their forebear hid out during the Civil War. A wide variety of flora and fauna also fill the pages. Sir Walter the dog has a chapter, as do phoebes and possums. Edibles such as ramps, branch lettuce and morels pop up among trillium, lady’s slippers, and trailing arbutus.
Brilliant color photographs illustrate the essays lavishly. You can enjoy simply flipping through the pages, as well as carefully savoring each section. Joslin’s love and appreciation for the mountains comes through clearly as he evokes the season through all the senses.
Mountain Spring is the first in a series of four books which will depict the seasons in the Southern mountains. The book is available through The Overmountain Press (800-992-2691), the Lees-McRae College Bookstore, Twisted Laurel Gallery in Spruce Pine and other booksellers.